rashbre central: August 2010

Tuesday 31 August 2010

sky ride 2010

Two maps of London in two days on this blog and both bicycle related. This one is about the Mayor of London's Sky Ride which takes place on Sunday.

I did it last year and it was quite good fun, what with London's central roads closed to traffic and the whole place turned over to cyclists.
Sky Ride 2009
This year's route is similar to last time, but its also possible to go past the Houses of Parliament, which was still open to cars last time.

I guess its a slightly longer route, but presumably there will be more people taking part. Lets hope it's also good picnic weather, like last time.
skyride 2009

Monday 30 August 2010

cyclemeter GPS track experiment

london cyclemeter loop
A little experiment today, using one of the iPhone GPS trackers whilst I took a short spin around part of tourist London.

I was really more interested in how the Cyclemeter iPhone software drew the route rather than exactly where I travelled. The phone was thrown into my backpack amongst car keys and various other electronic miscellanea, so GPS reception was far from ideal.

My start was by The Navigator in Belgrave Square and then out towards the eastern extension of King's Road before heading towards Westminster Abbey with views of Parliament, Big Ben the Eye and then around the back of Downing Street and past the Spitfire parked on the pavement.

The Mall is currently closed to traffic giving an easy run to Buckingham Palace which I did twice because it was quite fun zipping along such a deserted street, except for the roadblock quantities of tourists taking photos. Back past a busy Victoria station and then through a few twists around Eaton Square and back to where I started.

Only a few miles, mainly flat with thousands of tourist spots. A good example of how one of the London hire bikes could do simple sight-seeing in a matter of minutes.

Okay, so the map isn't perfect, but its not bad, and sufficiently good for anyone to be able to work out the route.

And, alright, I'll admit I was using my own bike today, but I did have to pump one of the tyres before I could start.
buck house

Sunday 29 August 2010

pack light

I recently impulse purchased a small waterproof jacket to keep in my bike-bag. It was after 'The Soaking' a few days ago, but also something of a serendipitous sale purchase.

I was in Wandsworth and walked past a bike shop with a big 'Sale' sign in the window and a display of ultra expensive bikes and ultra reasonably priced waterproof jackets. Magnetically I was drawn inside to look at the rainwear. I wanted something that folded down to a paperback book size or less, which I could put into my small back-pack. Sure enough they had something.

Just six days later it has made a debut, when I was out this afternoon as the sky turned dark grey and then black and another variation of white rods appeared from the sky. Two minutes later I was snug in the jacket and carried on, with just occasional rivulets of soothing rain water bathing my head through the air vents in my cycle helmet.

I know it's good value because I was able to spin past others sheltering under trees and in hedgerows. Come to think of it, that was my situation about a week ago.

Saturday 28 August 2010

bank holiday weekend

Another early start today, although the first part of the day was spent working.

I received the latest updates to something I'm doing during mid-evening yesterday and decided to start work on the changes at around 06:30 this morning. Someone else involved is jumping onto a plane today and it would better if they have the latest version before they start their journey.

As I worked I could look outside and see the fine weather, so once I'd finished the revision, I decided to take a short bicycle ride in the still early morning sunshine.

My hastily assembled shorts and tee-shirt combo amplified the slight chilly edge with the sunlight, and even at past seven thirty there was still a relative silence in the neighbourhood.

After a few miles the reports and paperwork had blown out of my mind, at least until Sunday when I get the inputs from New York.

Thursday 26 August 2010


lion and lamb
Early evening featuring chilled summer berries with warm white chocolate sauce. And laughter.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

whistle a merry tune

same old song?
I don't usually pay that much attention to the stats on this blog.

Ages ago I set up those little tracker things and would check them fairly regularly but as years go by I've paid less attention. But I must admit I was tempted to create some traffic at the weekend when I saw the counter was nearing a major number increment.

I resorted to the cheap trick of posting about the television talent show that has been allegedly adjusting its singing quality via software. i decided to use the show name and the possible software in the title of the post and then add some information about the specific technology.

It worked quite well and I did get a boost to readership and even some offline emails asking for further information. It did the trick of bumping the counter so I could feel quietly smug about my little experiment.

What I noticed, though, was the relatively non-investigative coverage of the story in the media after the event. The Sunday ink papers couldn't carry the story anyway because of deadlines and by Monday the story was little more than the same comments that had been twittering during Saturday.

I'd thought (but not blogged) about the possible fraudulent considerations of tampering with musical performances and then asking people to pay good money to cast their votes towards the one they judged best.

That issue doesn't seem to have surfaced though and the popular press seem to be relaying the "it's not really a talent show its entertainment" line.

Keep sending the money.

Monday 23 August 2010


find a little wood
I managed to get car wash wet during Monday, when I took some time out for a little ride in the country. It was pleasant enough when I started, but by the time I was a few miles along, the rain had decided to excel.

My last recent downpour had felt like rods of stinging ice, but this time it was pleasantly warm. I'm guessing the difference has more to do with a cooler air temperature rather than warmer rain.

I'd thought about taking waterproofs before I started, but decided to go tee-shirt light. It's probably an early warning of the need to be slightly more sensible.

In the event, I finally surrendered to the water when I couldn't really see the road and found a handy canopy of trees until the rain subsided. My patience paid off, and a short time later there was again a hint of better sky to keep me in a good mood for my return journey.
Arrow Lane

Sunday 22 August 2010

My Last Five Girlfriends

The DVD of “My Last Five Girlfriends” arrived a couple of days ago and I’ve now had a chance to watch it.

The movie probably wouldn’t be on my usual radar but what with fellow blogger Daniel being in it and all, it becomes essential viewing.

The cover-art suggests regular rom-com, but the film has some interesting surreal sections. Instead of direct action a la Hugh Grant movies or 'talk to camera' like High Fidelity, this one had whole sequences that were really the inside of someone’s head.

If anyone has seen “Pete meets Life”, which is showing on TV the moment, you’ll get an idea of the way that gameshow hosts can overlay commentary on the way someone is behaving.

In this movie there is also a complete tour of an imaginary fun-fair depicting the main character's fortunes as well as some 'confide to camera' moments. One could say all the bases have been covered.

The main subject of the piece is Duncan and the story revolves around the various mishaps of his last few relationships. I’m not sure if he was supposed to be likable but I must admit I struggled.

That didn’t seem to be a problem for the various girlfriends who would link with him in minutes before things progressively spiralled into various quirky behaviours and ultimate disaster.

In the midst of this Duncan is architecting a new building and it is as his accomplice that designer Daniel appears and hits it off with his girlfriend of the moment.

I’ll admit an inward “Yay!” when expansively thatched Daniel first appeared in an elevator and, although he was initially filmed deep in the scenes, he soon progressed to rooms and cocktails alone with the Gemma the girlfriend.

It was all proper acting and realistically delivered - I’ve seen Daniel acting funny (so to speak), but this required a much straighter style. I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say Daniel is a material element.

The director Julian Kemp packed in quite a few techniques along the 'time for a montage' line although I don’t think there were any spinning newspapers. I liked the sense of “London” it included, although the theme park was presumably elsewhere.

The interesting thing is that "My Last Five Girlfriends" seems to be becoming a slow-burn success. It’s moved from limited UK release to full US distribution as a DVD and just hit the UK shores in the same way. Heck - it can be seen on shelves in supermarkets and was reviewed in the Big Papers.

Let’s hope that it also gets another television exposure for Daniel, before the year is out!

Here's not the trailer, but the Film24 extract which opens the film clip with Daniel and one of the girlfriends...

wild streets

Before the rain
As I started out for an early morning spin, a nearby neighbour was just returning home from their Saturday evening. We exchanged a quick "Hi" as I whizzed past.

I'm not sure if it's a just past dawn thing, but people do seem to greet each other more in the early hours. I suppose it is a function of not so many people around. More wildlife than human today including a sparrowhawk hunting ahead of me along the hedgerow and an impressive squadron of swans flying noisily overhead.

Worth the time to stop and gaze and I'll pretend its not just because I'd just climbed a rather steep hill.

Saturday 21 August 2010

Xfactor Autotune speculation? Otto rules.

antares AVOX
I happened to catch the end of the new Xfactor this evening.

They've wound the melodrama to 11 - I saw a terminally bad pop trio followed by an improbably silent audience ("Don't Clap" cards?). Next a styled quirky girl being given multiple attempts to sound good. Finally a singer with a freestyled version of a Duffy song - Mercy - which seemed an appropriate plea.

My ears picked up what sounded like autotuning during the broadcast. I've used Autotune for fun as a post-production plug-in when I mix music, but this appeared to be used live. I'll speculate it was an Antares AVOX AVP-1, which is a rack-mounted box, rather than the bit of software, but they obviously hadn't read the manual to slow down the retune speed properly.

I suppose it must have been post-processed or only added to the recorded track because otherwise the word would be out from the audience at the recorded show. Surprising no-one bothered to listen to the "Kittens in Autotune" quality playback.

I can understand the use of the technology for correction, but unconvinced of its use in the audition phase of a singing context? Maybe a short note to viewerservices@itv.com is required?

I decided to create a possible response using the Cowellisms application.

“Well you know what, we want to make the show relevant. Let’s put things in perspective, its only a microphone, not like someone fell off a mountain.

Maybe we misunderestimated the British public’s reaction, but let’s face it, we’re going outside some peoples’ comfort zone with some of the acts.

If the singers can’t make the song their own it might be controversial and that's going to get attention in any case.

You know what? You still have to judge everything based upon personal taste. That's why the public voting is so important.

I’ve seen those articles in the Press, all that extra coverage all week about a little button pressed by accident. You know what, we should just wipe the slate clean.

This week I’m going to judge it just on what I see in these performances and let the public decide.”

...and as an addendum, here's one of The Gregory Brothers examples of autotuning a C-SPAN congressional report on building a turtle fence.

Friday 20 August 2010

what's he building in there?

The well known cliche is occurring as someone nearby is embarking on a particularly ambitious amount of light engineering, from within their garage.

It’s got those whirring buzzing metallic sounds, plus an occasional hammering and a crackle like some sort of arc of electricity.

There’s something that sounds like bowling balls being dropped and rolled around from time to time and a low bass note that pulses.

There’s also been some spectacular broken glass sounds like bottles being stirred in an upright washing machine. Tom Waits had a similar experience.

I’ll probably try to get a peek at what's happening later, but I suppose in the tradition of such things I should wait until midnight and for a small crack of light from a paraffin stove or candle.

Thursday 19 August 2010

how now brown saddle

I have a slight sense of disquiet as I notice that google adverts are targeting me with 15-25% discounts on bicycle chainrings as I browse haphazardly around sites. Not just one cog, but a whole series of “offers”.

how now brown saddleI should probably clean out my browser cache or reset the cookies to get back to more mainstream offers. I can only think the sensitivity is based upon my recent postings about cycling, but it’s uncannily close to the mark.

Either that or its just the subjective thing, like the way that an iPod Shuffle will sometimes play ten or twenty songs that are just right for the mood. But come to think of it, I remember a recent car journey where we seemed to be surviving on bangin’ club tunes however many times we hit the ‘next’ button.

Today I’ve been throwing stuff away again. It's a chain reaction. I was handed some discarded stuff to check before disposal and it created a yearning for some further rationalisation around the place. I can best measure it in wheely bins and let’s just say we’re full plus an eclectic selection of items for a charity shop or two.

There’s too much to take away on the bike, though, so maybe mentioning ‘car’ a few times will change the advertising.

Update: as a footnote, after this and the above post, I'm getting adverts for Laboratory Waste Disposal.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

candy fix

orange pedals with green wheels
I'll need to break away from my obsessive series of posts about the fixed wheel bicycle restoration project, but not until I've had a chance to Juice Lube the orange pedals and apply them symmetrically.

I realise it's a whimsical cartoon look, what with the green rims, white chain and an inexpensive but essential retro purple bit in the back wheel. I'm hunting around for a brown saddle, which is somewhere in the recesses of the garage and will add further weirdness.

I know that this candy coloured thing won't blend inconspicuously into the scenery like my faux-scungy chameleonesque MTB parked secretly in a useful place, but it's a different sort of project.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

pedal power

orange bike pedals
Anyone who has seen the rashbre central garage will know it struggles to keep way too many items contained and its been a long time since a car was allowed inside.

This has meant the refurbishment of the black bike and the repairs to the silver one have taken longer than anticipated because I can't locate any of the toolsets or spare parts to make things good.

Luckily I keep a small gadget-driver in a separate backpack and the gadget can usefully undo and re-tighten most bits of a bike. Consequently both bikes have a serviceable array of parts even if some aren't the intended ones. Today's breakthrough was the location of the orange pedals I've been planning to put onto the black bike.

Next is to find a saddle that doesn't resemble a sponge.

Sunday 15 August 2010

in which i return the fixie home for fixin'

Back from some cycling this morning, before most of the area is properly awake.

I wasn't in much of a hurry and even returned once to swap bikes because I'm still breaking in an experimental single speeder which seems to need more fixin'-up work to be done to it than my usual multi speeder.

Frankly the fixie is a bit of an economically assembled amalgam of parts, so it's not that surprising that it is protesting a little. The chain is making unfortunate crunching sounds, its got some temporary pedals and the saddle is a kind of cloth which seems to suck in the slightest amount of rain.

I'd pinged on the Cyclemeter iPhone app before I started and of course it then worked out the route for the two bikes together and even sent me an unexpected email afterwards analysing my progress and showing my route on a little map.

Saturday 14 August 2010

holiday plans revised

3gracesAnother week dashes past and could have led to the start of some holiday time, but the Fates have contrived other things because of some immediate work commitments. I'm sure we'll be rescheduling something else later but short term I'll continue to keep nose and grindstone aligned.

Today I'd considered a spot of cycling but I'll admit the incessant downpours tricked me into submission. I'll be out in the morning though, whatever the weather.

The email from the bike scheme today said that Londoners have cycled 100k journeys now in the first two weeks, which is in keeping with my average of 2 journeys as one of the 45,000 members. My journeys have also been in the sub 30 minute range but unlike others I've been lucky with finding bikes and docking stations probably because one of my journeys was on a Sunday and the other in the early afternoon.

I suspect its a good decision to start the scheme in mid Summer without allowing casual users, so that the teething problems of full docking stations, unpredictable usage patterns and erratic software can be ironed out ready for a more concerted use on 2011.

If the scheme introduces a new layer to the London transport infrastructure, alongside private bikes, then it will be a good addition.

Accentuate the positive. So I'll be thinking of my current additional working interlude in terms of the Graces, rather then the Fates. Joy, beauty and charm.

Thursday 12 August 2010

flashy mind's eye perseids?

There I was, at around three thirty am, staggering around the house in the dark. I'd woken and decided it was worth a look outside because I'd heard on the news about the Perseid metoer shower being at its best around now.

I wandered to the kitchen, which has a big glass door from where I looked upwards to the night sky, partly obscured by light cloud cover, but with a few of the big stars shining through. I could indeed make out the Plough (which I'm told isn't even a full constellation, but part of something else) and also the North star - for starters.

Then as I was looking around to get orientated, I noticed a little flash of a line in the sky. Quite faint, very fast and only lasting a mere blink of an eye - more like dim very straight lightning at an angle to the earth. I wasn't sure whether I'd imagined it.

I kept looking, wondering whether it was the meteor dust or simply my tired eyes. Then a couple of minutes later I saw another one - or maybe imagined another one. It was quite a short line in the sky and only lasted a tiny amount of time. A speck of dust burning at 1600 degrees Celsius or my tired eyes?

They'd both had quite a steep angle to the sky and were some way to the right of the Plough. The six mile diameter comet that created the dust isn't due around here again until abour 2126, and its near miss with the earth isn't until 3044. Its supposed to be about the same size as the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Its a bit like the brilliant Swift-Tuttle Dark Chocolate Espresso Berry Comet Truffle belly timber recipe designed to wipe out astronomical hunger.

But I'm still not sure whether I'm an observer, even after I glimpsed or imagined the third one.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

London Cycle : Maps and Routes

London Cycle : Maps and Routes
I wondered whether there would be any iPhone applications to support the new London Cycle Hire scheme and it turns out there's already about half a dozen. I plumped for the first one I spotted, but actually it didn't work very well, so I then decided to read a couple of the reviews.

The one called London Cycle: Maps and Routes seems to work well and has quite a few features such as a live map of the docking stations and numbers of bikes available, a route planner and even estimated times for journeys. There's also a countdown timer to show how much time left in the 'free' period.
London Bike Scheme

The application also looks useful for general surface route planning, whether using a hire cycle or not. I'm guessing that these applications will eventually overlap with the ones that provide information about pubs, coffee shops and train stations. Otherwise I'll need a whole page for all of the iPhone travel in London applications.

But I'm not complaining, and - guess what? - the application is free.

London Cycle : Maps and Routes


hot dog at cromer
Yesterday's presentation went okay, which also meant that the agreeable business supper at a posh country home was, well, agreeable.

There's still piles of work for me to do, although it seems slightly surreal at a time when many others are enjoying summer holidays.

So today's midday deadline has also been met and tomorrow I'm heading into one of the skyscraper blocks in central London for some more presentations. Rather madly, I'm thinking how I can work a use of the London bicycles into my travel plans, but I've decided, prudently, that if I do it should be on the way back from the meeting, in case of any mishaps.

Its bad enough arriving for a meeting with a spattering of coffee, so I'm sure I could do worse based upon one of those bicycles, at least until I've had a bit more practice.

I suspect the semiotic hot dog at Cromer on Sunday was providing a warning to take care.

Monday 9 August 2010

accentuate the positive

Sandringham - grey weather
I was at the Queen's place on Saturday, not Buck House, instead at the one in Norfolk nestling amongst all of the other large estates in the area.

In between our plans to have fun, I was also working and had to put aside a couple of hours during which I could concentrate on the presentation I needed for Monday.

It was one of those situations where the outcome would probably depend upon how I told the story. So to illustrate, here's a couple of my pictures whilst wandering around the Royal grounds. Neither picture is really the way it looked and in fact the two pictures are both from the self same camera shot, once with everything set to 'dismal' and the second time set to 'candy happy', so to speak.

It's something like my presentation where I had to choose an appropriate mood to convey the right impression. Not too much grey but also care not to overdo the sunshine.

If you know what I mean.
Sandringham - super saturated sun

Sunday 8 August 2010

Riding around on the London Cycle Hire Scheme

London Bike Scheme
I finally made it to try out the new London Cycle Scheme. Its already been running a week, but I just haven't had the opportunity.

Then, Sunday evening, a moment presented itself. I was at the Knightsbridge Pont Street rack and there were about five or six cycles available.

I found the little card and slotted it in, watching a little set of lights change from red to green. Yippee! I could get a bike. Except it wouldn't come out of the rack. I tried a couple more times but then noticed someone else struggling with the same problem.

London Cycle Hire SchemeI moved to another rack and tried again. Green light and this time the bike came free. Neither of us were sure what the problem had been, but I was ready to try the bike.

First impression, well built, but quite heavy. I realised I needed to adjust the seat and work out whether the big black elastic band was important (only for carrying things). I set off along the road and instantly noticed two things. One - the gearing was rather low and two, I was surprisingly wobbly.

I stopped and changed to gear 3, which was as high as it would go. This immediately felt better and I was able to start off in a more refined manner. I headed down the first side street to get used to the bike and by the time I'd traversed the square I was more comfortable.

The bike runs quietly and is surprisingly upright compared to my own bikes. The three speed hub gears are probably useful although I stayed in 3 for almost the whole time.

After a few minutes I realised how much I was grinning on this new addition to London's transport and simultaneously realising I didn't know where the other nearby docking stations were located.

London Bike SchemeI know the area I was cycling around quite well, but I was also interested in the sensation of having to remember the one way systems in this hybrid world between pedestrian and road user.

I was also struck by how many people were looking at me on the bike. Not my wobbling, which had stopped after the first couple of minutes, but I think they were showing the same novelty interest that I've also had as the scheme was introduced.

I re-docked the bike within the 30 minute 'free' period and although that was a few hours ago, I'm still grinning.

Thursday 5 August 2010

no claustrophobia on this submarine

no claustrophobia on this sub
There's that bit in a Tarantino film when Uma Thurman and John Travolta discuss what later becomes the plot of Kill Bill. And I think the same thing happens in Notting Hill Gate when Julia Roberts rehearses the lines of her next movie with Hugh Grant. Its something to do with being a commander on a submarine and having to talk in improbable sounding jargon, which the Julia Robert's character suitably mispronounces.

But the producers from the BBC were watching and thought "Hey, that's not half bad, don't y'know" and commissioned a whole series based upon the rooftop scene.

It's called 'The Deep' and about a spacious submarine underneath the North Pole. There's a great and suitably diverse gang of crew although Minnie Driver has managed to wangle the part originally destined for Julia Roberts. I initially wondered why there wasn't a spiky haired oriental looking person in the crew but was then relieved a couple of scenes later when one showed up in the UN tracking station.

I've heard others being scornful of this project, but I'm regarding it as an interesting piece of light entertainment. The submarine's interior is about the same size as a space ship from Alien and has plenty of Sci-fi pods and flashing lights all around. There's obviously a great conspiracy happening outside in the 700 degree centigrade thermal ducts which don't seem to melt the icebergs.

We also have a possibly murderous latecomer to the crew who knows Everything but won't say a word.

In effect, we have a great collection of space drama plot devices stacked up in this five parter mini-series. Or should that be Minnie series?

I will be watching. Open the pod bay doors.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

infinite monkey theorem

A strange mailshot today that set me thinking. I was being offered a service which will write my blog posts for me. They even offered to do a trial post by way of a demonstration of capabilities.

Now if I was a bank and wanted to write articles about financial matters to publish every few days to keep my site active, then I could understand it. Or someone writing about cake making. Even antique clock repairs or fashion tips for the busy person.

But mine's a personal blog. The letter said they greatly admired it and would write to the same high standard. I wonder who they had intended to email?

Tuesday 3 August 2010

sun then thunder

bicycles at saatchi gallery
Out and about on a bicycle.

Two, in fact, as I was sharing one of my bikes and we swapped part way along.

Others have commented on the London bike hire scheme and the fact that they have their own bikes so wouldn't use it. I understand the point and was expecting that I'd be using the scheme when I was otherwise bike-less.

So far that hasn't been the case though, so despite my access key I suppose I'll be a late adopter.

Of course, it was sunny when we were cycling around, but in typical British weather mode, i'ts now turned from sunshine into thunderstorms with that type of rain that feels like ice rods.

Either that or I've got a fever.

Monday 2 August 2010

Lizzie Pattinson

Lizzie Pattinson
We ran into Lizzie Pattinson performing whilst we were on the Island. Lizzie's last name is a give-away because she is the sister of Robert Pattinson, who is in the Twilight and Eclipse vampire films. A noticeably large group of press photographers arrived as she hit the stage.

Last weekend we'd seen Ella Edmonson who is the daughter of Ade Edmonson and Jennifer Saunders whilst we were in Devon, and its interesting to see how these multi-talented families handle their diverse streams of output.

In Lizzie's case it was bluesy, jazzy singing with quite an American edge to it. I was slightly surprised that someone from Wimbledon would sound more from the other side of the Atlantic than ours. I don't think it was just me though, because I heard others asking if she was American.

It was a pleasant enough set, but I can't help thinking it would be so much better in a club rather than across a vast early evening field. I suspect she would strike more rapport in such a jazzy setting. It was also probably more of a night-time set too, which maybe does provide a linkage to her brother's performance craft.

Sunday 1 August 2010

length of an island on fumes

The Isle of Wight isn't that big. About 27 miles along the long side. We'd been visiting friends at the far eastern end and needed to get back to the ferry, which was close to the far western end.

"Almost Empty" chimed a little display in the car as it made three ding sounds.

"It'll be fine", responded the driver. We were on our way to our friends' place at this point.

Several hours later, we left and the car did it's little bing again. Still no urgency, but a special route back across the island. I was intrigued that we drove for what seemed like an hour but didn't go past any petrol stations.

I would try not to say anything or panic.

"That's unusual", came the response. "Most of the petrol stations have either closed and gone, or are closed for the evening."

We reached the ferry. No petrol stations. We drove past the ferry to the next town. No petrol stations. I could lean across and see the little dial on empty. Next to the yellow warning light and the Special Warning Message. Past the first empty line marking and hovering on the second empty line marking.

I tried to admire the sunset. To imagine not having to walk along a deserted road trying to find a place to get a "gallon" of fuel in a metal container.

We headed back to the ferry, silently noting the extra 14 mile round trip we'd just done to two extra petrol free towns. We parked in the lane for the ferry.

Would it start again to get us onto the ferry? Would the remaining fumes be enough to get us off the ferry when we returned to the mainland?

During the crossing we asked someone how far it was to the nearest petrol station on the mainland. He gave us comprehensive instructions which included a couple of phrases like "then go along the really long stretch to the nearest roundabout."

We drank coffee and waited for the ferry to reach the terminal. Then back to the car. Would it start again?